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Rudy Giuliani Subpoenaed By Three Committees; Trump Uses His Power To Pressure Allies; President Trump Trying To Find Out Whistleblower's Identity; Source: Mike Pompeo Was Listening In On Trump-Zelensky Conversation; Interview With Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) About His Call On The President To Resign In Order To Allow This Country To Heal; Mick Mulvaney On Shaky Grounds; New CNN Poll On Impeaching And Removing President Trump From Office; Trump Hints A Civil War. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 30, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Thank you so much for joining us everyone.
Our breaking news tonight is simply stunning. The president is absolutely freaking out right now all over of the breaking news involving some of the top people on team Trump.
There is Rudy Giuliani, of course, his personal attorney, subpoenaed by the chairs of the House intel, foreign affairs, and oversight committees for records on his pressure campaign to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on the president's perceived enemies.
And since nobody in the White House seems to have any control over what Giuliani says, fasten your seat belts. That's happening as the president suggested today that he thinks one of those chairmen, intel chairman Adam Schiff, should be arrested for treason.
So, he thinks the chairman of the committee taking the lead on the impeachment investigation is a traitor? Don't think for a moment that that's just the way the president acts when they're under siege. It's not. It's completely outrageous, just more evidence that he is freaking out.
Then there's also the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who is in deeper on the Ukraine incident than we knew. We're learning that he actually was listening in on the president's infamous Ukraine call, which has got to make you wonder why Pompeo dodged questions about the whistleblower's complaint when he, himself, was a witness to the call in real-time.
And there's news about another call the White House apparently tried to bury. A source is telling CNN the president pressured Australia's prime minister to help Attorney General Bill Barr in his inquiry into the origins of the Mueller investigation.
"The New York Times" first reported the call and the news that the White House restricted access to the transcript to the small group, the same thing that happened with the Ukraine call.
That as questions are being raised about just how close the president is coming to witness intimidation after he demanded to see the whistleblower. His words, face to face, and openly said today that he is trying to learn his or her identity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you now know who the whistleblower is, sir?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, we're trying to find out about the whistleblower.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, the whistleblower understandably seeking protection as Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the intel committee tells CNN this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Any rational person would be concerned about the whistleblower's safety after the president's comments, which led from some press outlets on the right who were actually offering a bounty on trying to reveal the whistleblower's identity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And in an outrageous example of pouring gasoline on a fire, then tossing a bomb right into the middle of it, the president prompting the, quote -- promoting the quote, I should say, from a Fox News contributor and Evangelical pastor who predicts, his words by the way, "a Civil War" if this president were to be removed from office.
By the way, hat tip to former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa who points that one of the talking points pushed by Russian trolls was that there would be a civil war if Democrats tried to impeach President Trump. Asha will be here tonight.
That as we're learning more about what's going on behind closed doors at the White House. Multiple sources telling CNN the president's allies are worried he doesn't understand the gravity of the impeachment fight and how quickly the whole thing is moving.
Some warning him he faces a real likelihood of being impeached. Others annoyed that he won't let go of the conspiracy theories about the last election with 2020 looming.
And then there are congressional Republicans reportedly anxious about what else might be out there. They probably weren't reassured by this from the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that if the house passes articles charging the president with crimes, he'll have no choice but to take up an impeachment resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: If the Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change, so I would have no choice but to take it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All of this may explain why some of the president's allies are struggling to put out a coherent defense. The aforementioned Rudy Giuliani contradicting himself as usual.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Will you cooperate with the house intelligence committee?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: I wouldn't cooperate with Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be removed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're not going to cooperate?
GIULIANI: I didn't say that. I said I will consider it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you wouldn't do it.
GIULIANI: I said --
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you will not cooperate with Adam Schiff.
GIULIANI: I said I will consider it. I have to be guided by my client frankly. I'm a lawyer. It's his privilege, not mine. If he decides that he wants me to testify, of course I'll testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. First, he said he wouldn't. Then he said he would. Same interview. Par for the course, saying I won't cooperate, but I will if my client, the president, wants me to.
He wasn't the only Trump defender seemingly having trouble getting his story straight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of this exchange? President Zelensky says, we are almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes, and President Trump replies, I would like you to do us a favor, though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just added another word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's in the transcript.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, I'd like you to do a favor, though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's in the White House transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He's right. It's right there in the rough transcript released by the White House. That is a fact. We've got to talk about facts tonight, OK, because remember facts first. Facts first. The facts are more important now than ever before because the lies from the president of the United States and from his defenders, those lies are coming fast, and they're coming furious.
The president tweeting an absolute tirade of lies and abuse, and his defenders singing from the very same hymn book. But here's the thing. In the face of all of this, all this misdirection and this straight-up lying from the president and his defenders, we all have to have -- we've got to stand up for the facts. That's what we have to do. And that includes those of us who are in the media.
We cannot allow the president's defenders to spew falsehoods, to spew lies, misdirection, shiny objects as if the facts were a matter of opinion because they are not. It is very simple. Either you can prove what you're saying with facts, or you cannot, as simple as that.
A couple of examples for you. This is Chris Wallace of Fox News holding Stephen Miller's feet to the fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: I've asked you a specific question. I'd like a specific answer. The president has the State Department. He's got the CIA. He's got the Pentagon. He's got a number of other agencies. Why did he use three private lawyers to get information on Biden from the Ukrainian government rather than go through all of the agencies of his government?
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Two different points. Number one --
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: How about answering my question?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He never really answered the question. How about this, this dust-up between Fox's Ed Henry and conservative radio host Mark Levin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LEVIN, FOX NEWS HOST: Zero. You want to know about -- hold on now, hold on.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, you're OK with the president asking another president to dig up dirt on a candidate? You're OK with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a former vice president.
LEVIN: Dirt on a candidate? What dirt are you talking about?
HENRY: The president of the United States -- I'm not saying this was illegal --
LEVIN: He didn't ask for it. Are you reading the same --
HENRY: -- but I'm asking you are you OK with a president asking his counterpart -- this this is a simple yes or no -- to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Are you OK with that?
LEVIN: First of all, your question is not honest, so I don't give yes or no answers.
HENRY: That's a quote from the transcript, sir.
LEVIN: Let me finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And listen to this. This is a really heated exchange between Congressman Jim Jordan and CNN's Jake Tapper over the lawmaker's false claims about Joe Biden's son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): He's getting paid $50,000, and then when the company that's paying him that money is under investigation, guess what? Daddy comes running to the rescue. The vice president of the United States --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's not what happened.
JORDAN: -- comes and fire that prosecutor.
TAPPER: Sir, that's not what happened. The European Union, the Obama administration --
JORDAN: You don't think Joe --
TAPPER: The International Monetary Fund, pro-clean government activists in Ukraine thought that the prosecutor was not prosecuting corruption.
JORDAN: So, you're saying Joe Biden didn't tell the -- didn't tell Ukraine to fire that prosecutor? I think he did.
TAPPER: He did, but the guy was --
JORDAN: He bragged about it.
TAPPER: The guy was not prosecuting anything. That was the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's a strategy, folks. Keep spinning, keep lying, keep talking over the person who's questioning you, over the anchor, over the journalist, whoever. Just keep -- just keep spinning lies and keep bringing up conspiracy theories as to confuse you, the American people.
But don't be confused by it. That was Jake Tapper, our very own Jake Tapper, not letting the congressman get away with lies. And I think that is really important. If the president's defenders cannot stick to the facts, if they can't tell the truth, then we have to say so. We have to demand the truth. We have got to. The facts. Like we always say around here, facts first. And it matters now more than ever. Do not fall for the OK dokey.
Giuliani's subpoena, Pompeo's revelations. What is next in that fast- moving impeachment inquiry? That's a good question. John Dean, Michael Isikoff, Max Boot, they'll answer it next.
LEMON: House Democrats have subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for documents on Ukraine. The president's personal attorney right in the middle of the impeachment investigation after admitting to asking Ukraine to help him dig up dirt on Trump's political rivals.
Joining me now is John Dean, Michael Isikoff. Michael is the author of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump." Max Boot is here as well. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Gentlemen, good to see all of you. Thank you so much for joining us.
John, I'm going to start with you. Rudy Giuliani has been subpoenaed by Congress to produce documents. He says he's giving it appropriate consideration. Do you think he's going to comply? How do you expect this to play out?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he'll follow Trump's wishes, and I think they probably like his telephone for openers, which he won't -- he'll probably not give that up, but he may give some of the text messages that he's been flashing around on television.
And who know what's other documents he has. He seems to not be the kind of attorney who writes lengthy memoranda to his client but rather communicates with him through Fox News.
LEMON: Max, Democrats are warning Giuliani and the president about trying to obstruct the inquiry. Could this end up as another article of impeachment, you think?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it definitely could. I mean not just the obstruction but also the threats that the president is now issuing against the whistleblower, saying that he's a spy and suggesting that he should get the death penalty, saying that he's interested in learning the whistleblower's identity.
I mean, remember the president has a duty under the Constitution to take care that the law is being faithfully executed, and one of those laws is the Whistleblower Protection Act, which clearly Trump is not enforcing, in fact just the very opposite.
So, you know, these threats of violence, of Civil War, of treason, of execution, I think all of that could be added to the articles of impeachment along with the ongoing obstruction of justice and the obstruction of Congress. I think those are also major articles.
LEMON: Max, listen, before I get to Michael, I hope people at home are listening. Could you ever imagine a president of the United States tweeting out or saying something like that about someone who works in the government, about a whistleblower, that we want to find out who they are, it's treason? I mean it's -- it's just -- I can't believe it's -- I can't believe I actually read it when I read it.
BOOT: Yes. I mean I think you're absolutely right, Don, to be just shocked and gob smacked by this. I think the rest of us have become way too inured to this wrongdoing, to this breaking of norms, to this unconscionable and unethical behavior by the president of the United States, which would have been off the charts bonkers, it would have been crazy, unbelievable from any other president, and it's become routine with Trump, and we can't accept that.
And that's a lot of reason why you have to have impeachment. You have to say this is not normal. This is not acceptable. We will not allow a president of the United States to trample on the law and our ethics and our traditions the way that Trump is doing every single day.
LEMON: I think of the former president, something like that had come across his Twitter feed, no one would have believed it. They would have said someone hacked the president's Twitter feed.
LEMON: Michael, let me bring you in here because I want to ask you about the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. We are learning that he was on that call between President Trump and the Ukrainian President Zelensky. He heard the president asking a foreign power to investigate his political rival. Is Pompeo an enabler in this scandal? Is he in trouble here?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: You know, I think this is one of the more fascinating questions, how does Pompeo respond to the subpoena he's already gotten about this?
You know, the contours of this scandal actually is pretty far- reaching. You have Pompeo listening in on the call. You had Vice President Pence meeting with President Zelensky in Poland and talking to him about corruption.
You know, so it does raise the questions of this was -- if this was all part of a plan to suspend military aid, use it as leverage to get the new Ukrainian government to do what the president wanted for his own political purposes, I mean this could get awfully messy if it includes the secretary of state, the vice president, and who knows who else. So, you know, I think the stakes in this have gotten a lot higher.
LEMON: John Dean, CNN's Jamie Gangel has a new report. It's from a source familiar with Trump's calls with foreign leaders. The source never heard a call as problematic as the Ukraine call but say that Trump was ill prepared, and they were still politically embarrassed -- they were still politically embarrassing and inappropriate incidents on the calls that had diplomatic consequences. It raises questions about how many of these calls there are.
DEAN: I suspect there are many, Don. I suspect that's why they have this filed extra secure that they're putting this sort of thing in. He's the kind of man who refuses to really prepare for calls. He's not well briefed. He gets bored by briefings. He thinks his gut instinct will give him the right instinct on what to say and when to say it. And it's showing it gets him in a lot of trouble.
So, I -- we heard -- there was reporting today that Bolton said that he had advised against the call to Zelensky, and one of the reasons being that Trump refused to prepare for these calls. So, I think that's probably a very good analysis and right on and one of the problems.
LEMON: Michael, you think there are more calls, concerning calls?
ISIKOFF: Well, look, there are many more calls that the president has had with foreign leaders. I'm not sure how we're going to -- whether this process that the House intelligence committee has underway is going to get us access to those calls.
There's a clear predicate to learn everything about the Ukraine call because we've got the transcript. We've got -- we've seen what the president said, and on its face it's deeply problematic.
LEMON: Well, I ask you that because CNN previously reported the White House officials --
LEMON: -- took remarkable steps to keep the president's calls with Vladimir Putin, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia from becoming public.
ISIKOFF: Right. You know, look, because this is so serious and because, you know, it could have very severe consequences for the president, impeachment and a trial in the Senate, it's probably best if everybody get, you know, tries to restrain themselves and stick to the evidence.
The fact that those calls were put in a super-secret server or whatever is not, on its face, evidence of obstruction of justice. Let's stipulate that no president that any of us could remember would make the kind of request that Trump did of Zelensky.
But let's also stipulate that any White House faced with the leaks of the president's phone calls with foreign leaders would have taken extreme steps to drastically restrict access to those calls.
And all the reporting indicates that, you know, this is putting those calls in a -- in this special server had begun long before the Ukrainian call. And so, you can't link it to a specific step taken in response to concerns about an investigation into this.
So, I don't think right now based on the evidence, we can say this amounts to obstruction of justice. We've got serious charges on the table. We should stick to what the charge -- what the evidence shows.
LEMON: And that's exactly what Nancy Pelosi is saying. Stick to this, stick to the one issue. Stick to the evidence --
LEMON: -- at hand here.
BOOT: I just --
LEMON: Max, I got to ask you, separate from the Ukraine issue, CNN is reporting that Trump pressed Australia's prime minister during a recent phone call to help Attorney General Barr investigate the origins of the Russia probe. Do you see a pattern in the way the president has used our foreign partners?
BOOT: Yes, I do, and this is part of a pattern with the Trump administration, which is to subordinate all interests of the United States government, to subordinate the national interest to the self- interest of Donald Trump.
This is not an America-first policy that the president is pursuing. It's a Trump first, last, and foremost policy. And it's especially shocking in the realm of foreign affairs where the president has vast authority to represent the country, vast discretion, and we expect him to champion our national security.
But clearly, it's obvious in these phone calls that he was undertaking with the president of Ukraine, with the prime minister of Australia, probably also with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, with President Putin of Russia -- those are, you know, some of the phone calls that we understand have been placed into the codeword system where it's hard to get at them.
And I think the reason why that's happened is because it's clear that the president is not pursuing foreign policy or national security. He is basically pursuing campaign business.
In the case of the prime minister of Australia, he was clearly encouraging the Australians to cooperate with Attorney General Barr, who was undertaking this politically motivated probe to essentially prove that Trump is right when he says he was the victim of a political witch hunt in the Russia investigation, that this was a vendetta against Trump by the Obama administration, by the FBI, by the deep state, what have you.
I mean the attorney general is trying to prove these crackpot conspiracy theories, and Trump is urging our foreign partners to help him do that. So, this is, you know, deeply improper, and this is part of a pattern with the president of politicizing everything and of putting his own self-interest ahead of the nation's interest. And, again, that's a reason why I think impeachment is the right remedy here.
LEMON: Everyone, stick around. President Trump on the attack, openly saying he wants to find out the whistleblower's identity. Is it witness intimidation?
LEMON: Well, tonight some White House aides are warning President Trump he faces a real likelihood of being impeached. That as President Trump lashes out on Twitter and says that he is trying to find out who the whistleblower is.
Back with me now, John Dean, Michael Isikoff, and Max Boot. So, John, let's talk about the whistleblower. Trump said in the Oval Office today that he's trying to figure out who that person is. I mean you know what it's like to be threatened in this kind of situation. Tell us what this whistleblower is up against. Is his or her life in danger?
DEAN: For sure. His lawyers are very smart to be alert to this problem. What happened in my case is the chairman of the Senate Watergate committee alerted my attorney to the death threats. They worked out an arrangement with the special prosecutor to have me placed in the witness protection program, where I was for about 18 months on and off.
Now, there was also the problem the fact that the president controls the Department of Justice, controls the witness protection program.
In this instance, the Attorney General Barr doesn't even think this man is a whistleblower or woman, and so you have a situation where I think Adam Schiff ought to come forward and go to the Deputy Attorney General and tell him, we want this witness to have protection of the witness protection program. And I think it could be done.
LEMON: Well, listen, Max, the president has been having a Twitter meltdown of sorts, tweeting that he wants to meet his accuser, the whistleblower, and warning of a civil war-like fracture in the country if he's removed from office. Are you worried that this president's main impeachment strategy appears to be fear and division?
BOOT: Its fear and division and distraction. It's making threats and lying like crazy, claiming that he's the victim of a political hit job, which is what he has claimed in the past, claiming that, you know, he had a beautiful conversation. There was nothing wrong with it, even though we can read with our own eyes the rough transcript that the White House itself released, and the quid pro quo is right there.
The wrongdoing is right there in those 10 little words. I would like you to do us a favor, though -- those words which Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader of the House apparently was not familiar with. He didn't actually read the transcript. And so, if you don't read the transcript, it's easy to conclude that the president didn't do anything wrong, but if you read it, you know he did something deeply wrong.
And Trump is trying to distract from that and issuing these bloodcurdling threats. It's this giant distraction machine so we don't focus on the actual evidence, which will lead inevitably to impeachment.
LEMON: Yes. You know, it's frustrating because you read the report, and you have to sit here and pretend that the folks who are denying what the report actually says, that there's actually some legitimacy to it when, as you said, if any objective-thinking person reads the report, you see it's right there in black and white in front of your face regardless of what the apologists for this president say. You know, Michael --
BOOT: It reminds me -- just quickly, Don, it reminds me of one of the die-hard Republican defenders of Richard Nixon in 1974, a Republican Congressman who said, don't confuse me with the facts. That is basically the position the Trump defenders are taking right now.
LEMON: Yes. Michael, sources tell Jim Acosta that Trump's aides are warning him that he faces the real likelihood of being impeached and that Trump's behavior has really annoyed top officials in the West Wing who are frustrated, the president won't give up these conspiracy theories about the 2016 election. It sounds like utter dysfunction when they need a plan here.
ISIKOFF: Yes. Look, you know, it's hard to imagine that Nancy Pelosi having formally declared this an impeachment inquiry, that that is not going to lead to the impeachment of President Trump.
You know, obviously, you know, there's still facts we haven't learned. There's still testimony we want to hear, but the strong likelihood here is the president is going to be impeached, and there's going to be a trial in the Senate. Mitch McConnell confirmed that today, that he has no choice. He has to under Senate rules convene a trial.
So, this is a really serious matter, and the president, with his tweets, with his threats against the whistleblower, you know, calling him -- suggesting -- using words like treason, you know, is only digging himself into a deeper hole. And all of that, I agree with Max, when he said earlier, all of that could be wrapped into an article of impeachment that includes attempts to intimidate the witness.
So, it's pretty clear that they're rattled at the White House. They don't quite know how to respond. They don't quite understand the gravity of what they're facing, and, yes, this is going to be pretty rocky over the next few months.
LEMON: Well, apparently -- and this is according to CNN's reporting -- the president is even upset or frustrated with his acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney. This is for you, John. He is upset because -- reportedly, because Mulvaney did not have a strategy for defending and explaining the contents of the rough transcript of the Ukraine call and the whistleblower complaint as soon as they were released publicly, but this is a mess of the president's own making. Why is he mad at Mick Mulvaney?
DEAN: Well, that explanation or excuse came out about right after the release of the transcript. It's now been 48 hours. They still don't have any kind of defense for it. They're all over the lot. McCarthy on television just said, well, I don't even believe that is the right phrase when it's being read directly to him from the transcript.
This isn't good defense. They're just trying to confuse. They're doing a lot of dissembling, and this is not a good strategy. There is not really a good strategy to such a blatant abuse of office for personal gain.
LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
ISIKOFF: Thank you.
BOOT: Thank you.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: House Democrats subpoenaing President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, demanding that he turn over documents related to Ukraine. As the controversy around the president and defenders heats up, former Congressman Beto O'Rourke has called on the president to resign in order to, quote, allow this country to heal.
Joining me now is Democratic presidential candidate, Congressman Beto O'Rourke. I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. Listen, despite the subpoena, Giuliani is signaling that he won't comply. Are you worried that he's going to try to stonewall Congress? REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what? I'm
confident in the ability of Congress, of Chairman Schiff, and the other leaders in the House right now who are showing real courage and tenacity and perseverance in the face of the obstruction of justice that we've seen from the Trump White House from the very beginning.
They're going to make sure that the American people have the facts, members of Congress can make an informed decision. And if the president is impeached and the trial moves to the Senate, that we have all the compelling facts in front of those Senators and that, importantly, their constituents, including the constituents of Republican members of the Senate can help to form the political will to do what is necessary for this country.
So very grateful that it appears as though Rudolph Giuliani is going to appear before that committee. Very grateful that we've learned that Secretary Pompeo was on that phone call July 25th with President Zelensky. Very grateful that we've learned, thanks to great reporting from the press, that the Prime Minister of Australia was also engaged in the president's efforts to use his position of public trust to dig up dirt on his political enemies.
I think the American people now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the president has committed crimes, that he must be held accountable, and that if our democracy is to make it, there must be justice at the end of the day.
LEMON: There is a tentative agreement for the whistleblower to testify, but the president is threatening the whistleblower and today said that he is trying to find out who that person is. What do you think of the president's tactics -- what do you think all those tactics of this impeachment inquiry?
O'ROURKE: Donald Trump is a thug. He is acting like a mob boss right now. He's had a history of witness tampering and intimidation. He's trying to do the same thing right now with the whistleblower, demanding that his identity be revealed so that he can intimidate him and, frankly, so that he can intimidate other potential whistleblowers.
As you know, under the whistleblower statute there's no limit on the number of whistleblowers who can come forward, and we need more of them to share the truth, tell us the facts so that we can make informed decisions for the future of this country. It's the same tactic the president is using against the chairman of the House Intel Committee, trying to accuse him of treason, knowing full well that the ultimate punishment for treason is death.
And this is someone who is trying to do their job, trying to ensure that the American people have the truth and that we hold this president accountable. So he's demonstrated that he will stop at nothing to preserve his purchase on power. He'll stop at nothing to use his political office to dig up dirt on his political enemies. And we as a country must stop at nothing to make sure that we have the truth, accountability, and justice at the end of the day. So we've got to stand up to his bullying and to his mob boss tactics.
LEMON: Let's talk about how people in the country feel about impeachment, because there is a new CNN poll, finds that 47 percent of Americans are in favor of impeaching the president. Congressman, that is up six points since May. Do Democrats have more of a burden of getting the public onboard, do you think?
O'ROURKE: I think the challenge is to do the right thing regardless of the politics or the polls or our prospects in the next election. That is what I see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doing right now, what the Democratic committee chairs are doing right now, and frankly over the last two years in Texas, going to all 254 of those counties in what was thought to be a very red state and talking about impeachment in many of them. This was back in 2017. We won more votes than any Democrat had before, and importantly won nearly half a million votes from Republicans.
And that was when I was very early on, perhaps the first among the presidential contenders to talk openly about impeachment. So I don't think we have to fear the consequences politically. I think we just have to do what is right for the country, and then I think we'll find that that leadership, that courage is rewarded politically in the next election by the American people, who want us to stand up and do what's right for the country, not for our party, not for our own careers, not for the next election. I think it all will work out in the end.
LEMON: Well, because you've heard the conventional wisdom, I'm sure, that if you -- you'll make him sort of a martyr if you - and you'll make him stronger if you impeach him. If the goal is to get rid of him and not to have him be re-elected, then don't impeach. Beat him at the ballot box or in the voting booth. What do you say to that?
O'ROURKE: No, I think our responsibility is to this country. And if we set the precedent in America that some people are above the law because of the position of power or public trust that they hold, Donald Trump can commit crimes with impunity that Attorney General William Barr can use his office to dig up dirt on political rivals of the president, that Rudy Giuliani can refuse to testify and respond to the requests from Congress, then we will forever lose this democracy and our ability to govern ourselves and freely choose our leaders, our representatives, and the direction of this country.
So really the future of this country and of America as a republic is on the line right now. That is more important than any election, any polling, any electoral prospects. And I hope that members of Congress, including those Republicans in the United States Senate, listen to that, think about their legacy, the heritage of this country, and the need to preserve our democracy at a moment that it is under attack unlike any other moment in our country's history.
LEMON: Congressman, thank you.
O'ROURKE: Thank you for having me on. LEMON: One Republican Congressman calling President Trump's civil war
tweet beyond repugnant. That's one Republican. What about the rest? Next.
LEMON: President Trump tweeting up a storm ever since Democrats announce an impeachment inquiry, but this, this is really stunning. The president quoting a Fox News contributor, an Evangelical pastor who predicts his words a civil war like fracture if Trump were to be removed from office.
Well, the comment swift condemnation from Republican congressman and in Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, Adam Kinzinger, who replied with this. he said, I visited nations ravaged by civil war @realDonaldTrump I never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a president. This is beyond repugnant.
So, let's discuss now. Douglas Brinkley is here. Michael D'Antonio is here as well. He is the author of "The Truth about Trump."
Gentlemen, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I want to read this to you, Douglas. This is from a former mayor of New Orleans and CNN political commentator Mitch Landrieu, he tweeted this.
He says, news for @realDonaldTrump tweeting about a civil war isn't funny. The civil war wasn't a football game where people simply picked a team to root for. It was a war fought to destroy our country for the purpose of preserving slavery. Over 600,000 died amongst our darkest moment -- among our darkest moments. Do you think the president has an awareness of how incendiary that was for him to tweet something like that?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I don't think so, because President Trump has no real sense of history. He's admitted he doesn't read American history. He doesn't understand the civil war. He is simply only worried about himself. It was an egregious thing to retweet. It's nonsensical, Don, because in order to have Donald Trump leave office it would take a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
It means 20 Republicans would have to join on board. And so it would be unity getting rid of Donald Trump. So it's another bit of reckless language and I would think you have a course of Republicans stepping up and denouncing this, because in the end it could incite violence. You have militia groups in America. Right Wing extremists saying, Trump's ready for another civil war. This kind of thinking of people like Timothy McVeigh during the Oklahoma City bombing. You know, this sort of patriot militia. Donald Trump speeding fuel to that fire.
LEMON: Listen, Douglas, It's seems like a civil war like fracture. Most people don't see the like fracture. They see the term civil war and that's all, right? And that is the incendiary part.
BRINKLEY: That's right and he's basically saying, if you get rid of me there will be blood spilled all over the land. That hundreds of thousands of people may die. Cities on fire. Scorched earth policies. The country will never be the same again. That's something at a dictator would say. Not something a United States president would say.
We're kind of used to these irresponsible tweets and retweets. But in the litany of really dumb and idiotic ones Trump has let loose, going there and putting that out from you know, a pastor in Dallas. Who is once called the Mormon Church, a cult and says the wall being built on the U.S. Mexican border is -- you know, there's a wall in heaven for certain people can't get in. So, we'll build the wall here. He is a -- kind of a wing nut. And here's Donald Trump promoting his civil war theory. It's sad.
LEMON: Well, we know, above all else, Michael, this really president cares about. He prizes loyalty, right. And so when members of Congress go after him he will go after them. Do you think that people that other members of Congress, other lawmakers will have the courage that Adam Kinzinger had and they will follow his lead?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think if the president keeps going they will. So, this is a president who seems to be testing us really by the hour. And searching for that point where maybe he'll make a breakthrough. But he's more likely I think to break the hold that he has on the Republican Party.
There's something terrifying, but also terroristic about a tweet like this. This is a president who is actually trying to frighten us all. And I think, you know, the irony is that we may eventually look at this and say, well, this is the person who pushed us to such an extreme. That we're going to try to get along. That maybe Americans will reject this kind of extremism and perhaps the Republican Party will get on board with being decent and being respectful to the nation.
LEMON: Do you think he has anyone around him in his inner circle that will challenge him and say don't do that?
D'ANTONIO: From what I hear from people in the White House, he does not. There's not an adult in the room.
LEMON: What do you think, Douglas?
BRINKLEY: I don't think there's anybody that can get to him anymore. He's isolated himself. He really has no friends or close associated, alter egos. It's all Donald Trump. And we've always said from the beginning of covering this presidency, his tweets and retweets may end up dooming him in the end.
This kind of statement about the civil war has to anger a lot of Republicans. They're just staying mute and let's hope that, you know, they will learn to speak up. You can't give Trump -- allow Trump to be that reckless. He has to pay a cost for it. Somebody like McConnell has to say don't retweet crap like that, but in fact he won't.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your time. We'll be right back.